US biodiversity statement creates uproar

THIRD World Network (TWN), a Malaysia-based environment group, has voiced its concern over some basic issues in USA's controversial interpretative statement of the Biodiversity Convention, which US President Bill Clinton has agreed to sign (Down To Earth, June 15, 1993).

The US interpretation says, "Private parties (read companies) should have legal rights over technology derived from using local species". This, says TWN, "would, in fact, hijack the convention for the benefit of industry, making it an instrument to be used against the Third World." International environmental organisation Greenpeace has extended its support to TWN.

Meanwhile, the World Resources Institute, which helped draft the US position on the convention, wired out its own statement, which said, "The principal strategic objective of the work of US non-governmental organisations was to reverse the opposition of US industry to the convention's signature." The German government has sent a note to the US state department, in which it says it "shared the US view as far as contents is concerned, but will not formally support the position taken by the US."